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Southbank Centre plans limited revamp while Festival Wing remains on hold

Three months after putting its controversial Festival Wing scheme on hold, Southbank Centre has announced plans to go ahead with a more limited refurbishment of the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery.

Southbank Centre plans limited revamp while Festival Wing remains on hold
The fate of the ambitious and controversial Festival Wing proposals will be decided later in the year (photo: Miller Hare)

Southbank Centre announced in February that it was reviewing its Festival Wing scheme after Boris Johnson revealed that he was not minded to approve a development that displaced skateboarders from the Queen Elizabeth Hall undercroft.

Now Arts Council England has given Southbank Centre a 16.7 million grant to fund the repair and maintenance of the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery.

Starting in late 2015, the building conservation project will address a 24 million backlog of repairs. The Arts Council grant will meet 70 per cent of the budget, with the remainder to be raised from trusts, philanthropists and the public.

Southbank Centre now says it will make a decision on the future of its wider Festival Wing proposals in "late 2014".

"We are very grateful to Arts Council England for so generously supporting the urgent repair and maintenance of these iconic sixties buildings," said Rick Haythornthwaite, chairman of Southbank Centre.

"This is an important step for Southbank Centre following the delay to our Festival Wing scheme in February.

"We still aim to create new space for our artistic and cultural programmes, once we have found a way through the substantial remaining funding challenge.

"This will enable us to meet the huge demand for our work following the refurbishment of Royal Festival Hall."

Simon Hickman from English Heritage said: "These uncompromising brutalist buildings reflect radical changes in British society and culture during the era of their design and creation.

"Their conservation could not be further delayed and we are delighted that Southbank Centre and Arts Council England are prepared to invest in them.

"This will enable the public to appreciate the buildings and their significance. English Heritage looks forward to working with Southbank Centre and sharing our expertise in the detailed development of the proposal."

In a statement, Southbank Centre said that it will be "making every effort with skateboard groups to resolve their future in the Queen Elizabeth Hall undercroft".

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